When scrolling through your social media feeds, you may notice an increase in sponsored content subtly embedded and encouraging you to purchase a product or service. Social commerce, or the direct sale of products and services through social media, has become big business since first emerging in 2015.
Insider Intelligence predicts that by 2025 sales generated directly through social media will reach almost $80 billion in the U.S. According to Accenture, the global social media commerce industry, which was worth an estimated $492 billion in 2021, “is expected to grow three times as fast as traditional ecommerce to $1.2 trillion by 2025. Growth is predicted to be driven primarily by Gen Z and Millennial social media users, accounting for 62% of global social commerce spend by 2025.”
What’s Driving This Growth?
The beauty of social ecommerce is really its simplicity. Unlike ‘traditional’ social media marketing strategies, which drive traffic to an external destination, social commerce takes place entirely within social platforms. From the discovery of products or services to checking out, this strategy uses social media as a virtual storefront. The result is an extremely streamlined and convenient user experience.
To date, social commerce is predominantly driven by pure consumer goods and lifestyle brands. These products tend to be less weighty in terms of messaging and can be more playful. However, this trend is not unlike other social media marketing tools. Facebook, Instagram and TikTok were first embraced by direct-to-consumer brands before being leveraged by B2B-facing industries. Similarly, we can expect businesses from a wider variety of industries to embrace social ecommerce as another legitimate route to customers. This is particularly likely because it offers a tangible means of tracking and translating social metrics into business impact by linking social directly to sales.
Social media commerce offers organizations a variety of helpful stats and analytics. As mentioned above, it can provide a direct correlation between social media and sales, acting as a metric system to measure profit. Additionally, it can also collect valuable, granular data relating to the customer journey. Finally, it can help organizations improve their reach and target audiences by working in partnership with social media platforms. Regularly sharing ecommerce content provides the opportunity to show up regularly on followers’ feeds, which can build more authentic engagement.
Can Social Commerce Work for Science Brands?
In terms of the potential for science companies, it’s certainly an evolving space. The initial forays into social commerce will be around personal health and care products. Examples of this include supplements, OTC medicines, and nutrition. We could see the promotion of seasonal vaccines from pharmacy chains, and perhaps even recruitment for approved clinical trials.
With new technologies providing people with greater insight and control over their own health and wellness, we could see health care providers seeking to leverage social media commerce to promote health plans, wellness initiatives, and specializations. However, moving beyond that into the actual delivery of health care services and prescription drug programs via social media opens up regulatory and data/patient privacy discussions.
Making a Strategic Plan
As marketers, it would serve us well to consider social commerce as a legitimate and tangible engagement and revenue-generating tool. Meeting customers where they are is fundamental for e-commerce. As with any marketing initiative, social media commerce should be mapped out strategically:
Determining objectives will support program planning and determine the appropriate metrics with which to measure success. Ask yourself, what would you like to achieve? For example, your objective could be acquiring new customers or converting customers into evangelists. Understanding how each platform works – not just for businesses but for users – is important for social commerce success.
Integrate your social ecommerce strategy with your existing sales and marketing strategy. Examine how it will interact with other marketing channels and how it can support and integrate marketing programs to optimize conversions and sales.
Social commerce hinges on content. People warm to content that inspires, educates or entertains them, so focus on ticking these boxes. Posting on social media channels consistently will grow content into an asset and a resource that can help establish credibility. Make content relatable to the audience. What are the benefits to them? What are the key takeaways? What’s the end user value? Using user-generated content adds credibility and is a smart way to develop loyalty, build trust, and attract new users. Shared positive stories can help drive engagement. For some social content inspiration, check out our post on Social Media Inspiration: 7 Science Companies Doing It Right.
Engage Your Audience
Social commerce can drive authentic engagement and interaction with followers. It allows brands to meet customers where they are and provides an open channel to answer questions and share information.
As social commerce continues to gain traction, the path to purchase via social media will become even more efficient. Devoting resources to develop social commerce marketing strategies can drive sales and improve customer experience.Keywords: content marketing, Digital Strategies, marketing to scientists, science marketing, social commerce, social media